03 May 2015

Australian first: UniSA lecturer Martin Freney’s futuristic Earthship home at Ironbank

Martin Freney has built Australia's first earthship house, a home built from recycled tyres, cans and bottles on his Ironbank property.

Welcome to Martin Freney’s new home. It’s built from earth-filled tyres, bottles and straw barrels, uses solar power, rainwater and recycled sewage and just might be the future of Australian housing.
The University of South Australia lecturer is adding the finishing touches to his fully sustainable “Earthship” home, the first of its kind in Australia.

The council-approved home runs off the grid of public utilities companies and uses no fossil fuels for power, instead harnessing solar energy and thermal ventilation principles to regulate inside temperature.

His Earthship, a 30-minute drive from Adelaide, has taken five years to build and aside from a few minor features has been constructed purely with the help of volunteers.

Mr Freney said he built the home to expose Australians to the Earthship concept, a house design invented in the US by architect Michael Reynolds.

Martin Freney inside the earthship house.

“It’s a wonderful solution to many of our modern problems,” Mr Freney said.

“Earthships are made only from natural or recycled materials and draw nothing from local water or power sources. They require no conventional heating but are comfortable in any weather. It could be minus 20 degrees outside and you wouldn’t know.”

Mr Freney’s home is designed for two people and includes all the features of a standard house, along with a hot tub and a walk-in wardrobe behind a dry mud wall infused with used bottles. Toilets are flushed with filtered sink, shower and bath water, which also irrigates food-producing plants in the home’s greenhouse.

Drinking water is collected off the roof, which channels rainwater into a cistern. Other Sewage water is sent to a septic tank for cleaning and later used to water the nearby landscape. Although electricity is derived from solar panels and stored in batteries, Mr Freney said that little power was needed.

An exterior view of the home.

“The idea behind the tyre and earth walls is that they soak up heat during the day and radiate that heat at night. That’s how they stay so comfortable,” he said.

Mr Freney’s home has inspired others to pursue similar projects across Australia. Earthship Biotecture Academy spokeswoman Rachel Goldlust said educating the public about Earthship building concepts could lead to more.follow Mr Freney and Mr van Laarhoven’s lead.

She said: “Earthships have They’ve been trialled around the world and we’re hoping more Australians become interested in sustainable living”.